Kopitar injured during Kings' loss to Stars
LOS ANGELES — Despite the eight goals scored in regulation and the 79 combined shots through overtime, the Los Angeles Kings' 5-4 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars Thursday at STAPLES Center resembled more of a war of will. The division rivals – and you can certainly underline "rivals" after the way several of their games have been contested this season – and character teams known more for their battling and defensive trademarks, combined for 76 hits.
"They've got some hard forwards over there. (Steve) Ott, (Brenden) Morrow, (Jamie) Benn, all hard guys to play against," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.
No hit was bigger or more momentum-shifting than the one administered by Morrow on Anze Kopitar — a massive shoulder-to-shoulder check that sent Kopitar spinning head-first into the boards. Mike Richards, wearing a visor that drew a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, instigated a fight with Morrow.
"That's what good teams do, right? You'd expect that out of Mike," Sutter said. The Kings succeeded in killing off the first 2:13 of the double-minor before Loui Eriksson became the first opposing player to score on the power play against Los Angeles since Brad Stuart of the Red Wings on Dec. 17, ending a string of 42 consecutive kills. The club record remains 46, set in 2001-02.
Kopitar will be looked at again Friday before the Kings depart for a three-game trip through Western Canada that begins Saturday night in Calgary.
"He will probably be fine. He's got a bloody nose," Sutter said. "He told me he's fine, so we'll see what that means."
The game also marked the awakening of Los Angeles' long-dormant power play, which contributed with a three-for-seven effort on goals from Kopitar, Jack Johnson and Dustin Brown, marking the first three-goal power play performance since March 2010. The Kings outshot their opponents for the seventh consecutive game and have averaged 33.4 shots per game since Sutter's arrival.
They've also put in quite a bit of overtime for the new boss, as six of Sutter's first 11 games behind the bench have been tied after regulation. It's a trend that forward Justin Williams wouldn't mind to see discontinued.
"Our power play got going a little bit," Williams said. "There were some positives out of it but in the end we gave a point to a divisional opponent we're fighting with."
NOTES: Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan, on Morrow's hit on Kopitar: "We watched it in slow motion there and we watched it again. In my mind it was a clean hit but he fell very awkward. I hope he's okay. I don't know the extent on anything there but he fell awkwardly into the boards. I don't think anything will come of it but that's for the league to decide. Hopefully he is okay." . . . Jack Johnson's three-point night (1-2=3) was a season-high. He has seven points in his last six games (2-5=7). . . . Dustin Brown and Mike Richards have teamed together with Aid Still Required, an organization designed to raise money for and awareness of the plight of those displaced by the 7.0 earthquake two years ago. They appeared in a video that ran on FOX Sports West and in the arena on Thursday entitled Haiti is a Fact. More information can be found at www.aidstillrequired.org.